Today’s Reading: 2 Chronicles 34-36
Today’s Reflection: 2 Chronicles 34:29-31
29) Then the king sent and gathered together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 30) And the king went up to the house of the Lord, with all the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the priests and the Levites, all the people both great and small. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had been found in the house of the Lord. 31) And the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book.
Josiah was a good king of Judah, ascending to the throne at the age of eight and ruling for 31 years. He sought after God throughout his young life and at the age of 20 began to remove every vestige of pagan and idol worship from Jerusalem and Judah. He destroyed the high places, crushed the altars, and scattered the remnants over the graves of idol worshipers (2 Chronicles 34:1-7)
Josiah also commissioned the temple of the Lord to be repaired, after years of neglect during the reign of idol-worshipping kings. The workmen found the book of the law of the Lord—better known as the Pentateuch, the Torah, or the first 5 books of the Bible—and brought it to Hilkiah, the high priest, who in turn sent it to Josiah. When the book was read, and Josiah realized how far Judah was from God’s instruction, even after all of his reforms, he tore his clothes and grieved, fearing that the Lord’s wrath against them would be great (2 Chronicles 34:14-21). Huldah the prophetess did receive a message from God that harsh judgment would come against Judah for their sins, but that this would not happen during Josiah’s reign because he had humbled himself before God (2 Chronicles 22-28).
Finally Josiah had the book of the law of the Lord read aloud to all of Judah, as we see in today’s reflection text.
We all experience times of revelation of God’s truth. Whether raised in the church or new to following Christ, there are moments when God’s Truth interrupts our preconceived notions and previously held beliefs, and challenges us to re-examine our ways before the Lord. The question is, when we find Truth, what will we do? Josiah’s reaction to finding and hearing the book of the law of the Lord provides us a model for how we should react when Truth is revealed to us.
When you find Truth, you don’t deny it. The book of the law of the Lord was found in the temple of the Lord. Its instructions were in agreement with what Josiah had learned about God and the anti-pagan and anti-idol worship reforms Josiah had instituted. Once he could affirm it was true there was no question about following what it commanded.
We must study to show ourselves approved (2 Timothy 2:15) but once we’ve come to understanding we have no reason to go back on what we’ve come to know as Truth, or worse yet try to substitute another set of more ‘popular’ or ‘convenient’ beliefs as a ‘new’ or ‘equally valid’ Truth.
Galatians 1:6-10 – 6) I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7) not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8) But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9) As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. 10) For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
When you find Truth, you don’t make excuses. Despite having not seen the book of the law of the Lord, Josiah made no excuses for not having kept the Lord’s instructions. He recognized Judah was guilty and mourned bitterly, hoping for God’s mercy to rest upon them.
In our modern tradition there’s a saying: ignorance of the law is no excuse. This means someone can be prosecuted for a crime even if they’re unaware there is a law against their actions. While this may seem unfair, the reality is those actions caused harm and the law exists to provide a remedy for that harm. For us too, ignorance of the law isn’t an excuse. When you find you’re doing something displeasing to God, don’t make excuses. Repent.
When you find Truth, you seek to follow it. Josiah made a commitment to follow the Lord’s instructions from His book of the law for the rest of his days. When God reveals truth to us, we need to commit to doing as He instructs. We don’t need to know how to do it—Josiah probably didn’t—but if we set our hearts on obeying God, His Holy Spirit will work in our lives to instruct us on how.
Acts 18:24-26 – 24) Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. 25) He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26) He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.
When you find Truth, you share it with everyone you can. Josiah had the book of the law of the Lord read in the hearing of all Judah, so the entire nation had the opportunity to follow God. We need to share what we know, through our words, our deeds, our example, so that others will have the opportunity to choose Christ for themselves and receive the gifts of salvation and eternal life.